Who is actually helping Sri Lanka?
Posted on September 6th, 2022

Chandre Dharmawardana.

It is not India, China or the IMF that has truly come to the help of Sri Lanka in a sustainable manner, by going beyond one-shot gestures or doing minor charitable acts.

Everyone is ready to praise the IMF or the central bank or other institutions for their role in solving the forex crisis. Commentators are ready to give credit to  the Aragalaya for getting rid of a group of politicians who had got corrupted over years of being in power. The opposition to Basil Rajapaksa was initially mounted by Weerawansa, Vasedeva, et al.  It ended up as a tsunami against all Rajapaksas and sent most of  them away. Gotabhaya made himself a sorry spectacle in the incompetent manner in which he handled his last days of power.

The months of chaos caused by the political instability, destruction of the agricultural export sector, and the Aragalaya upheaval caused massive economic losses, downgrading the port, causing a loss of confidence and goodwill badly needed for international trade.

But when the political Tsunami went, the refulx wave brought in RW and a government that is rapidly becoming encrusted with new layers of corruption.

The coal tender for the Norochcholai (Horagolla) Lakvijaya Power plant, and even the SATHOSA tender for buying canned fish seem to be shrouded in corruption, just to name a few recent deals done under the new government.

In the US such corruption is a regular legitimized item existing in theform of industry lobbyist who get paid for securing such tenders and othergovernment favours. So the Western ambassadors can say that their countries are free of corruption at the level of everyday business.

The real saviours of Lanka.

So, while the usual foreign exchange earners like tea, rubber, garments and other exports have collapsed, while the gains in government are eroded by increasing corruption, and while the small handouts from India have got nearly

used up, who has come to help Sri Lanka?

The immigrant workers of Sri Lanka are genuinely helping Sri Lanka evenwithout thinking about it, while the urbanized human-rights sensitized crowd,and the leftists calling for revolution are still dreaming of continuing theAragalya Protests.

The immigrant workers have sent US$ 305 million in remittances in August. If this gets increased to 500$-600$ million (i.e., doubling the contribution from immigrant workers) Sri lanka can solve much of our problems.

Also, if you make remittances to SRi lanka in dollars, then you can do the following:

a) Import an electric vehicle equivalent to 50% or less of remittance transmitted through legal channels.

b) Sri Lankan migrant workers who use the official banking channels has to send the foreign currency.

c) If they send more than USD 3,000 then they will be allowed to import an electric motorcycle.

d) If they send more than USD 20,000 then they will be permitted to import an electric car priced half of the amount transmitted to Sri Lanka, up to a maximum of USD 65,000.

e) These electric vehicles are not allowed to be charged through the national grid and so who ever imports electric vehicles using their remittances should also set up home solar panels (not connected to the grid) to charge their e-bicycles or electric vehicles.

So, the government must facilitate and encourage the would-be immigrant workers by providing them with reduced airline tickets and some seed money to pay the upkeep of their kith and kin until the first remittance by them. That might be far better than empty talk about system change, and will be an excellent investment in the long run and may largely mitigate the need to go after international money-lending agencies to borrow more money.

Chandre Dharmawardana.

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